Autumn is my favourite time of the year. The fall colours, the crisp air, wearing sweaters, and of course… reading snuggled up under a lovely afghan.
I was scanning my Goodreads TBR and noticed that several of the books on my TBR have covers that give off an autumn vibe. So, I thought I’d share them with you with the thought that perhaps you were looking for something to read during this glorious season. The publication dates of these titles span from 2006 to 2019.
“If I should die” by Matthew Frank
first published in 2014
It begins with vicious, apparently motiveless attacks on down and outs in South London. But when one of the homeless victims dies from his wounds, it’s murder . . .
For the investigation team’s youngest member, Trainee Detective Joseph Stark, death is already all too familiar. Injured in an attack that killed his colleagues, Afghan veteran Stark has enough on his hands just trying to recover without enduring the scrutiny and sideways glances of his new colleagues. The drink and painkillers he’s leaning on to keep him going aren’t helping. And there’s only so long he can ignore the efforts of the military police to speak to him.
When one of the victims fights back it soon becomes clear that there’s much more at stake than gangs preying randomly on society’s weakest members. But as he edges closer to the truth – and to the rotten heart of the crimes – Stark’s own strength is fading. It seems that the ex-soldier’s formidable determination to see justice done may not, this time, be enough to carry him through.
“River Bodies” by Karen Katchur
first published 2018
A body just turned up in the small town of Portland, Pennsylvania. The crime is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old cold case: another victim, brutally murdered, found in the Delaware River. Lead detective Parker Reed is intent on connecting the two murders, but the locals are on lockdown, revealing nothing.
The past meets the present when Becca Kingsley, who returns to Portland to be with her estranged but dying father, runs into Parker, her childhood love. As the daughter of the former police chief, Becca’s quickly drawn into the case. Coming home has brought something ominous to the surface – memories long buried, secrets best kept hidden. Becca starts questioning all her past relationships, including one with a man who’s watched over her for years. For the first time, she wonders if he’s more predator than protector.
In a small town where darkness hides in plain sight, the truth could change Becca’s life – or end it.
“To the Power of Three” by Laura Lippman
first published 2005
Josie, Perri, and Kat have been best friends since third grade—the athlete, the drama queen, and the popular beauty. Growing up in an affluent suburb of Baltimore, they enjoy privileges many teenagers are denied. But on the final day of school one of them brings a gun with her. And when the police break down the door of the high school girls’ bathroom, locked from the inside, they find two of the friends wounded, one of them critically . . . and the third girl is dead.
From multiple-award winner Laura Lippman, one of the most acclaimed authors of crime fiction writing today, comes a tale of secrets, friendship, and betrayal that illuminates a dark and chilling event with clarity and empathy.
“A Friend of Silence” by M. Lee Prescott
first published 2011
What safer haven could there be than a Quaker boarding school in a tiny New England coastal village? What secrets lie beneath its serene and quiet beauty?
Out of the blue, the campus is laid open, the peace of Old Harbor Friends shattered by the murder of lascivious, comptroller, Milt Wickie. Wickie is discovered in his office, a scrimshaw knife protruding from his chest, a knife belonging to beloved teacher and grieving widow, Bess Dore. Initially a suspect, the forty-two year old, Bess is soon exonerated and jumps headlong into a murder investigation along with old flame, police detective, Roger Demaris, and Harry Winthrop, an amateur sleuth, prolific writer, and the son of the school’s wealthiest patron. Will Bess find romance along the way, giving her heart to the gruff police officer, who still adores her, or to the fly-by-night, but charming Harry who is clearly smitten? Will the killer strike again? Will the silence and calm of the 200-year old Friends school ever again be restored?
“The Cottingley Secret” by Hazel Gaynor
first published 2017
1917… It was inexplicable, impossible, but it had to be true—didn’t it? When two young cousins, Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright from Cottingley, England, claim to have photographed fairies at the bottom of the garden, their parents are astonished. But when one of the great novelists of the time, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, becomes convinced of the photographs’ authenticity, the girls become a national sensation, their discovery offering hope to those longing for something to believe in amid a world ravaged by war. Frances and Elsie will hide their secret for many decades. But Frances longs for the truth to be told.
One hundred years later… When Olivia Kavanagh finds an old manuscript in her late grandfather’s bookshop she becomes fascinated by the story it tells of two young girls who mystified the world. But it is the discovery of an old photograph that leads her to realize how the fairy girls’ lives intertwine with hers, connecting past to present, and blurring her understanding of what is real and what is imagined. As she begins to understand why a nation once believed in fairies, can Olivia find a way to believe in herself?
“Bring Her Home” by David Bell
first published 2017
The fate of two missing teenage girls becomes a father’s worst nightmare….
Just a year and a half after the tragic death of his wife, Bill Price’s fifteen-year-old daughter, Summer, and her best friend, Haley, disappear. Days later, the girls are found in a city park. Haley is dead at the scene, while Summer is left beaten beyond recognition and clinging to life.
As Bill holds vigil over Summer’s bandaged body, the only sound the unconscious girl can make is one cryptic and chilling word: No. And the more time Bill spends with Summer, the more he wonders what happened to her. Or if the injured girl in the hospital bed is really his daughter at all.
When troubling new questions about Summer’s life surface, Bill is not prepared for the aftershocks. He’ll soon discover that both the living and the dead have secrets. And that searching for the truth will tear open old wounds that pierce straight to the heart of his family…
“The Headmaster’s Wife” by Thomas Christopher Greene
first published 2014
Like his father before him, Arthur Winthrop is the Headmaster of Vermont’s elite Lancaster School. It is the place he feels has given him his life, but is also the site of his undoing as events spiral out of his control. Found wandering naked in Central Park, he begins to tell his story to the police, but his memories collide into one another, and the true nature of things, a narrative of love, of marriage, of family and of a tragedy Arthur does not know how to address emerges.
Luminous and atmospheric, bringing to life the tight-knit enclave of a quintessential New England boarding school, the novel is part mystery, part love story and an exploration of the ties of place and family. Beautifully written and compulsively readable, The Headmaster’s Wife stands as a moving elegy to the power of love as an antidote to grief.
“Something Wicked” by Kerry Wilkinson
first published 2014
Nicholas Carr disappeared on his 18th birthday and the world has moved on. His girlfriend has gone to university, his friends have got jobs, the police have other things to look into.
But his father, Richard, is still stuck on the three fingers the police dug up from a sodden Manchester wood. What happened to Nicholas on the night he disappeared and why did he never come home?
Private investigator Andrew Hunter is Nicholas’s last hope – but Andrew has his own problems. There’s something about his assistant that isn’t quite right. Jenny’s brilliant but reckless and he can’t work out what she gets from their working relationship. By the time he figures out who’s a danger and who’s not, it might all be too late…
“Bitter River” by Julia Keller
first published 2013
Phone calls before dawn are never good news. Especially when you’re a prosecuting attorney in a small Appalachian town. Still, Bell Elkins is not prepared for this: sixteen-year-old Lucinda Trimble’s body has been found at the bottom of Bitter River. And Lucinda didn’t drown–she was dead before her body ever hit the water.
With a case like this, Bell knows the coming weeks are going to be tough. But that’s not all Bell is coping with these days. Her daughter is now living with Bell’s ex-husband, hours away. Sheriff Nick Fogelsong, one of Bell’s closest friends, is behaving oddly. And a face from her past has resurfaced for reasons Bell can’t quite figure. Searching for the truth, both behind Lucinda’s murder and her own complicated relationships, is leading Bell down a path that might put her very life at risk.
“Under an English Heaven” by Alice K. Boatwright
first published 2014
When Ellie Kent moves to an English village with her new husband Graham, she fears the villagers will always see her as that young American who snared their attractive vicar during his sabbatical in California. But this challenge is nothing compared to what happens when she stumbles across a body in the churchyard. The villagers insist they don’t know the murdered man, so suspicion mounts that the killer must be the incomer – the vicar’s new wife. As evidence piles up against her, Ellie tries to stay one step ahead of the police to unravel a decades-old literary mystery and love story. Will others die before she can solve it? And what will be left of her new life and marriage, even if she succeeds?
“Crossbones Yard” by Kate Rhodes
first published 2012
Introducing Alice Quentin, a London psychologist with family baggage, who finds herself at the center of a grisly series of murders
Alice Quentin is a psychologist with some painful family secrets, but she has a good job, a good-looking boyfriend, and excellent coping skills, even when that job includes evaluating a convicted killer who’s about to be released from prison. One of the highlights of her day is going for a nice, long run around her beloved London—it’s impossible to fret or feel guilty about your mother or brother when you’re concentrating on your breathing—until she stumbles upon a dead body at a former graveyard for prostitutes, Crossbones Yard.
The dead woman’s wounds are alarmingly similar to the signature style of Ray and Marie Benson, who tortured and killed thirteen women before they were caught and sent to jail. Five of their victims were never found. That was six years ago, and the last thing Alice wants to do is to enter the sordid world of the Bensons or anyone like them. But when the police ask for her help in building a psychological profile of the new murderer, she finds that the killer—and the danger to her and the people she cares about—may already be closer than she ever imagined.
“The Bones of You” by Debbie Howells
first published 2015
When Kate receives a phone call with news that Rosie Anderson is missing, she’s stunned and disturbed. Rosie is eighteen, the same age as Kate’s daughter, and a beautiful, quiet, and kind young woman. Though the locals are optimistic—girls like Rosie don’t get into real trouble—Kate’s sense of foreboding is confirmed when Rosie is found fatally beaten and stabbed.
Who would kill the perfect daughter, from the perfect family? Yet the more Kate entwines herself with the Andersons—graceful mother Jo, renowned journalist father Neal, watchful younger sister Delphine—the more she is convinced that not everything is as it seems. Anonymous notes arrive, urging Kate to unravel the tangled threads of Rosie’s life and death, though she has no idea where they will lead.
Weaving flashbacks from Rosie’s perspective into a tautly plotted narrative, The Bones of You is a gripping, haunting novel of sacrifices and lies, desperation and love.
“Trace of Evil” by Alice Blanchard
first published 2019
Natalie Lockhart always knew she was going to be a cop. A rookie detective on the Burning Lake police force, she was raised on the wisdom of her chief-of-police father. These cases will haunt you if you let them. Grief doesn’t come with instructions.
But the one thing her father couldn’t teach her was how to handle loss. Natalie’s beloved sister was viciously murdered as a teenager, and she carries the scars deep in her heart. Although the killer was locked up, the trace evidence never added up, and Natalie can’t help wondering―is the past really behind her?
As the newest member on the force, Natalie is tasked with finding nine missing persons who’ve vanished off the face of the earth, dubbed “the Missing Nine.” One night, while following up on a new lead, she comes across a savage crime that will change everything.
Daisy Buckner―a popular schoolteacher, wife to a cop, and newly pregnant―lies dead on her kitchen floor. As Natalie hunts for Daisy’s killer in the wake of the town’s shock, her search leads to a string of strange clues―about the Missing Nine, about Daisy’s secret life, and reviving fresh doubts about her sister’s murder.
As the investigation deepens, Natalie’s every move risks far-reaching consequences―for the victims, for the town of Burning Lake, and for herself.
“Out in the Country” by Kate Hewitt
first published 2012
Widowed a year ago, Lynne Marshall believes she’s ready to start a new chapter in life. She plans to exchange the bright lights of Manhattan for her home country of Scotland and open a country hotel with her childhood friend Jess and her fiancé Rob. Her daughter Molly will manage the home front as she starts her first year of teaching in one of the city’s toughest schools. When those plans are suddenly and tragically ruined, both Lynne and Jess are left shaken–and unsure what the future holds for either of them.
A weekend trip to Lynne’s husband’s home town in rural Vermont brings new opportunities, decisions, and a second chance at love for both Lynne and Jess… if they dare to risk their hearts again. Meanwhile Molly faces difficult choices of her own, and must decide where her heart truly lies.
“The Bourbon Thief” by Tiffany Reisz
first published 2016
Betrayal, revenge and a family scandal that bore a 150-year-old mystery
When Cooper McQueen wakes up from a night with a beautiful stranger, it’s to discover he’s been robbed. The only item stolen–a million-dollar bottle of bourbon. The thief, a mysterious woman named Paris, claims the bottle is rightfully hers. After all, the label itself says it’s property of the Maddox family who owned and operated the Red Thread Bourbon distillery since the last days of the Civil War, until the company went out of business for reasons no one knows… No one except Paris.
In the small hours of a Louisville morning, Paris unspools the lurid tale of Tamara Maddox, heiress to the distillery that became an empire. Theirs is a legacy of wealth and power, but also of lies, secrets and sins of omission. Why Paris wants the bottle of Red Thread remains a secret until the truth of her identity is at last revealed, and the century-old vengeance Tamara vowed against her family can finally be completed.
“The Next Time You See Me” by Holly Goddard Jones
first published 2013
Thirteen-year-old Emily Houchens doesn’t have many friends. She finds more comfort playing make-believe in the woods near her house in Roma, Kentucky, than with her classmates, who find her strange and awkward. When she happens upon a dead body hidden in the woods one day, she decides not to tell anyone about her discovery—a choice that begins to haunt her.
Susanna Mitchell has always been a good girl, the dutiful daughter and wife. While her older sister Ronnie trolled bars for men and often drove home at sunrise, Susanna kept a neat house, a respectable job, a young daughter. But when Ronnie goes missing, and Susanna realizes that she’s the only person in Roma who truly cares about her sister’s fate, she starts to question her quiet life and its value.
The Next Time You See Me is the story of how one woman’s disappearance exposes the ambitions, prejudices, and anxieties of a small southern town and its residents, who are all connected, sometimes in unexpected ways. Emily; Susannah; Tony, a failed baseball star-turned-detective, aspiring to be the county’s first black sheriff; and Wyatt, a fifty-five-year-old factory worker tormented by a past he can’t change and by a love he doesn’t think he deserves. Their stories converge in a violent climax that reveals not just the mystery of what happened to Ronnie but all of their secret selves.
“The Little Red Chairs” by Edna O’Brien
first published 2015
When a wanted war criminal, masquerading as a healer, settles in a small west coast Irish village, the community are in thrall. One woman, Fidelma McBride, falls under his spell and in this searing novel, Edna O’Brien charts the consequence of that fatal attraction. This is a story about love, the artifice of evil and the terrible necessity of accountability in our shattered, damaged world.
“Talking to the Dead” by Harry Bingham
first published 2012
At first, the murder scene appears sad, but not unusual: a young woman undone by drugs and prostitution, her six-year-old daughter dead alongside her. But then detectives find a strange piece of evidence in the squalid house: the platinum credit card of a very wealthy—and long dead—steel tycoon. What is a heroin-addicted hooker doing with the credit card of a well-known and powerful man who died months ago? This is the question that the most junior member of the investigative team, Detective Constable Fiona Griffiths, is assigned to answer.
But D.C. Griffiths is no ordinary cop. She’s earned a reputation at police headquarters in Cardiff, Wales, for being odd, for not picking up on social cues, for being a little over intense. And there’s that gap in her past, the two-year hiatus that everyone assumes was a breakdown. But Fiona is a crack investigator, quick and intuitive. She is immediately drawn to the crime scene, and to the tragic face of the six-year-old girl, who she is certain has something to tell her . . . something that will break the case wide open.
Ignoring orders and protocol, Fiona begins to explore far beyond the rich man’s credit card and into the secrets of her seaside city. And when she uncovers another dead prostitute, Fiona knows that she’s only begun to scratch the surface of a dark world of crime and murder. But the deeper she digs, the more danger she risks—not just from criminals and killers but from her own past . . . and the abyss that threatens to pull her back at any time.
Have you read any of these titles?
Do any of them pique your interest?